On behalf of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, I want to thank The Times of Northwest Indiana for its recent editorial in regard to the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its noting of local efforts to counter the law’s impact.
Regrettably, the law quickly became the subject of intense national debate, most of it negative, and sent a message that our state is not welcoming to all.
When the law first was passed, the Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with WJOB, responded with the “Everyone is Welcome in this Establishment” campaign. The chamber did so because we realized that we had to take a stand for what is right.
We also knew that even though we did not support or request this law; local businesses in the communities of Whiting, Robertsdale and North Hammond could suffer most from this ridiculous piece of legislation given our proximity to Illinois.
The Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce respects everyone’s rights, including the right to practice one’s religious beliefs, but passing a law that allows for any person to be treated in a manner that is less than someone else contradicts the values that everyone should be able to enjoy and believe in.
We were humbled that many religious organizations, including the Diocese of Gary, joined in the stand against the law. In fact, the law was not providing freedom to those practicing their faith, but instead a measure to legalize discrimination against individuals.
Most of all, we appreciate the leadership that the Times Editorial Board provided in making clear to readers just how flawed the law was.
Regrettably, whether it’s the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the repeal of the construction common wage law, it seems the General Assembly has its own agenda, one that fails to consider the impact that those laws have on businesses and communities such as those represented by our chamber, and in contradiction to the claim that Indiana is business-friendly.